Conway artist shows work in Little Rock

Carol Rolf/Contributing Writer Published May 1, 2016 at 12:00 a.m.
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Carol Rolf/Contributing Photographer

Conway artist Barbara Satterfield created this Sea Bed Installation of slab-built earthenware, using a 16-piece handmade pattern as her guide. An avid diver, Satterfield said this represents what might be seen on the bottom of the sea. The pieces of colored jewelry, seen in front in the foreground, are by Michelle Fox of Little Rock. Works by Satterfield and Fox are on display in Twists & Strands: Exploring the Edges, an exhibit in the Loft Gallery of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies in Little Rock.

CONWAY — Conway artist Barbara Satterfield has been retired from the University of Central Arkansas for five years, but she said she has never been busier.

“I am staying busy,” she said with a laugh. “I am having a blast.”

Satterfield has several of her ceramic sculptures in the exhibit Twists & Strands: Exploring the Edges, on display in the Loft Gallery of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies Institute, 401 President Clinton Ave. in Little Rock.

The exhibit explores the organic forms and shapes found in the natural world in this collaborative installation of Satterfield’s work, along with jewelry crafted by Michelle Fox of Little Rock. The exhibit will continue through June 25.

There is no admission charge for the exhibit. Normal gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The gallery will be open from 5-8 p.m. May 13 as it joins other galleries and museums in downtown Little Rock for the 2nd Friday Art Night, which is an after-hours gallery walk.

Satterfield said she first met Fox about three years ago while attending an event sponsored by the Thea Foundation, for which Satterfield served as a member of the board of directors. This is the first time the women’s work has been paired in an exhibit.

Satterfield said the pieces of sculpture in this exhibit are modeled after shells and stones she has been collecting for years and years.

“I consider myself a gleaner,” said Satterfield, who retired as director of the Baum Gallery of Fine Arts at UCA in 2011. “Like those who have scoured harvested grain fields for leftovers, I am compelled to look down in my immediate vicinity. While l love the big picture — expansive vistas, sunrises and sunsets and miles of open water — I usually scan the ground on which I walk and the floor of the body of water in which I swim.

“And, since the age of 8, I continue to be astounded: a twig shaped like a garden snake, a small stone reminiscent of a giant rock formation, an ocean reef bustling like a city,” she said. “Inherent in these marvels is time: trees decay, stones erode and reefs can die. Collecting a representative piece of a natural life cycle for contemplation is curiously satisfying. As an artist, I interpret and share that satisfaction.”

Satterfield said the pieces in Twists & Strands “reflect objects either viewed or collected along strands — or edges — of bodies of water: ocean beaches, a continental shelf, riverbanks, creek beds and cliff faces, or clefts in rocks where ice and moisture work transformative magic.

“I chose to collaborate with nature and explore ideas and create content. These sculptures form my homage to visual examination, metaphorical thinking and the exploration of sculptural ceramics.”

Satterfield created her sculptures from slabs of clay. She cut patterns using newspaper to help create the forms, making sure everything fit together seamlessly.

“I remember learning to sew at Hendrix College,” she said. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in theater arts from Hendrix in 1973.

“My teacher was the late Ella Myrl Shanks. She was the chairman of the theater arts department for a long time. We made costumes, some without patterns,” Satterfield said.

“I sewed for my kids later on,” she said with a smile.

“This has been a real intensive project,” she said, adding that she worked on it for about a month and a half in her studio at the home she shares with her husband, Jim Volkert, who is also an artist.

“I had the best time doing it,” she said. “It’s a real tactical exhibit, and I invite viewers to touch the pieces.”

Satterfield holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in studio ceramics from UCA and a Master of Fine Arts degree in studio ceramics and a Master of Arts degree in museum studies with an emphasis in exhibition development from the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences at George Washington University in

Washington, D.C.

In addition to creating art, Satterfield operates her own business, BarbaraB: Exhibit Development and Design in Conway, offering consultation, design and management services for artists and organizations.

Satterfield is a member of the Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Committee of One Hundred to Benefit the Ozark Folk Center State Park.